How I was able to cut my electricity bills in half!

I was paying way too much in electricity bills last year in 2006 and I decided to take action. I live in a 1000 square feet (100 square meters) condo in Ottawa Canada with electrical heat. I was paying an average of 400 CDN $ during the winter months.
I visited the Hydro One website called Power Wise for simple tips on how to reduce electricity consumption (that’s the company in Ottawa that provides electricity) and here are the results: my consumption in 2007 dropped to about 220 to 250$ for comparable periods.
Here are the actions I took:
1-replaced old appliances (fridge, old washing machine and dish-washer)
2-Service heat pump and electric boards.
3-Changed all light bulbs for efficient fluorescent light bulb.
4- We also close our computers/ printers when not using them.
Makes sense for my wallet and for the environment. I would like to see a more systematic application of these principles in businesses as a measure to reduce costs.
Actually, that there are some initiatives to implement new policies according to this article. My only critique is that as usual with any level of government, its taking place at a snail’s pace. 2012 – That’s in over 5 years!
McGuinty Government to Ban Inefficient Light Bulbs by 2012

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Posted in energy, government policy, sustainable living
7 comments on “How I was able to cut my electricity bills in half!
  1. craig says:

    Good move. Wish I was as good as you. Just as an aside the efficient lights we use still have murcury in them so they are not 100% environmentally friendly

  2. Leslie says:

    I think that what Martin did is very good and we all should do this. But it is not possible for some of us (and others maybe just don’t care). I care and I want to do something but I can’t do as much as Martin (since I am at my parents’house!). But we always can do something!!
    Here are some advice I found to enable us to contribute easily to sustainable development (I found them in French, so let me know if they are not well translated and/or if you don’t understand):
    AT HOME:
    – Do not hesitate to dilute your cleaning agents at home… You will decrease your consumption and they will be as much efficient as now.
    – Struggle against outflows: a tap that dribbles represents on average 120 litres of wasted water per day!
    – Do your washing at low temperatures: 80% of the electricity used is to warm water.
    – Use natural gas that is thriftier that electric hob and use cap on your casseroles to reduce cooking time and so energy used.
    – turn off completely household appliances, on standby position, they use 10% more electricity
    – Don’t forget to turn off light, 3 needlessly turned on rooms consume as much electricity as a fridge
    – Look for the labels, they indicate more environment respectful products
    – Use electric light bulbs and reloadable products (for example batteries)
    – Drive compliantly and energy consciously: you will consume 40% less fuel (=less pollution, less accidents)
    – For the short distances (less than 2km), don’t use your car (it consumes between 50% and 80% more fuel for the 1st km)
    – choose light cars that not consume too much and organise carpool with colleagues
    – prefer the train to the plane (extremely polluting)
    – pick water from rain to spray your garden
    – When you are walking, don’t throw anything on nature! (a cigarette but needs 2 years to disintegrate, a gum 5 years, an aluminium can 100 years, a plastic bag 450 years…)
    I hope I convinced you to help the Planet by doing simple things!

  3. Angelina says:

    The first step in any journey is the most difficult to take and is the most important one: I fully agree with Martin that we should start thinking about energy conservation and environment first of all at home. The financial incentives (i.e. our money spent on paying bills) are the best ones to help us. I do all the similar measures at home to reduce energy and water consumption, and also I commute to work by bus. At one of the environmental conferences last year (which I’ve attended) I have heard a US politician say that in US they say ‘You are a loser if you are 40 and still riding the bus’ – that is the general public attitude towards public transportation. Unfortunately, our egos and prestige are still more important, than the long term view of ecological impact. Sadly, there are not too many people on the bus who actually take pride in NOT burning 10 liters of gasoline today, not adding to the CO2 emissions and making a little difference to the environment.

  4. aisling says:

    Thanks for translating those points Leslie!! Again the more ideas that people can incorporate into their daily life the better!!
    I suppose you are right Angelina about public perception of public transport but at the same time I think that the more available it is, then the more likely people are to use it. It is something that really needs to be improved in Ireland (and they are working on it I believe) but at the moment there are plenty of journeys which you do not have a choice and have to drive (depending on where you live) Hopefully as the public transport system becomes more efficient we will be able to use it more and more!!

  5. adam says:

    Good comments all…Angelina, you made an excellent point re: egos and how they often affect our behaviors. At one bank I used to work for in Canada, many many people biked to work, and it was contagious. At Deloitte, this isn’t the case as there are still egos and people who look at you funny (and judge) if you don’t happen to walk into the building with a suit…these are old-world ideas that MUST BE FOUGHT….we need to leave our egos aside and think in a rational manner. My point is that it needs to become cool to recycle, to bike (or walk or jog) to work, to refrain from using excessive energy (A/C)….etc.etc….i.e. we need to create social pressure so that the movement (i.e. environmental one) can reach critical mass to bring about the change we need to see. I think our generation is much much much better aligned in this respect…we need to continue to create the social pressure for reform….much like Ghandi’s passive resistance…

  6. genevieve says:

    In response to Aisling and as information for other
    Last in Montreal, a bridge collapsed (pont de la concorde). (sorry, the website is only available in french). This had the effect that a major road was closed for a long enough period of time that authorities did not have the choice but ask Ontario to lend train to Montreal. Citizens also had to change their habits and go to work using public transportation. The result was that there was that traffic on other major road was less than usual… It took a major event to make people take the public transportation and make authorities invest in public transportation. So, which one comes first: the chicken or the egg?
    On the other hand, it seems that the actual question politicians are asking themselves in Quebec is: do we use available money to restore the roads or improve public transportation? I say: If public transportation would be better, our roads could be preserved a little bit longer right (excluding the debate about trucks on the roads) ?
    I would need help from Canadians to know if Montreal and its citizens kept the extra public transportations and behaviors implemented.

  7. Angelina says:

    To help out with the public transportation dilemma, I would like to clarify that in macroeconomic terms, transportation is both an inferior and superior good: superior in the sense that with the growth of economy and GDP as more goods will be trasported with a greater flow of the economy – however, this applies only to the freight transportation. Passenger transportation (i.e. public transport) is an inferior good, where the demand for it actually decreases with the growth of the economy. Therefore, the largest problem faced by public transportation is how to overcome one of the major laws of macroeconomics and induce more people to use public transport while ensuring the economic prosperity of people and growth of the GDP?

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